Staring at the numbers

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Sometimes, you can learn a lot by watching. But not always.

An alien observing our behavior in elevators would note that most of the time, a person gets in, approaches the front corner, leaves that corner, goes to the back and then stands silently, staring at the numbers above the door.

Only one of those actions is actually required. If you don’t push the button (or have someone push it for you) nothing happens. The rest—the moving to the back, standing silently and most of all, staring at the numbers—it’s just for show, a cultural tradition.

Most practices work this way. From eating in restaurants to marketing, we add all sorts of extraneous motion to our effort. Which is fine, unless you don’t understand which ones actually matter to the outcome.

Too often, we train people in the motions without giving them understanding. Then, when the world changes, we’re stuck staring at the numbers going by, unable to find the insight to push a new kind of button.

       

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